A goal apiece from Joe Malkin and Luke Walsh ensured Nantwich Town came out with a creditable draw against higher-ranked opposition in Curzon Ashton, in what was an entertaining afternoon of football at the Weaver Stadium.
Michael Ecclestone gave the visitors the lead after twenty-two minutes following a mistake in the Nantwich defence, but Joe Malkin equalised two minutes later for the Dabbers. Nantwich took the lead soon after the interval when Sean Cooke and Luke Walsh linked up, allowing the latter to fire home. However, it was the Nash’s turn to equalise shortly after as Isaac Sinclair netted on the hour mark.
The Dabbers arrived at the Weaver on the back of two consecutive wins away in Wales against Llandudno and Colwyn Bay respectively, and Dave Cooke had made two changes from the side that beat the Seagulls on Tuesday. James Lawrie and Will Saxon came back into the squad, while Joe Howell and Joe Davis were absent from the squad.
The referee blew his whistle shortly after three o’clock on a wet afternoon in South Cheshire, and the Dabbers grabbed the first chance of the game when Sean Cooke successfully split the Curzon defence to find Will Saxon, but Curzon keeper Cameron Mason was on hand to get to the ball before the former Kidsgrove midfielder could get to the ball.
Saxon was once again found behind the defence after eight minutes, but the midfielder was called for offside.
Cooke had an effort from outside of the box soon after on the back of a Nantwich corner, but the hit was high and wide of the top corner.
The first Curzon chance of the game came after twelve minutes, when a driven ball was put low across the box, but the Dabbers got it away for a corner. The ball was dangerously close to going in, but Troy Bourne was able to get it away.
Joe Malkin was soon played in, with one defender to beat. The striker dummied past the centre-back and moved in on goal, but his effort smacked against the post.
Curzon would take the lead shortly after, when a mistake in the Dabbers defence allowed Michael Ecclestone to latch onto a loose ball; the striker only having to slot the ball past Nantwich keeper Greg Hall to give the visitors the lead.
However Nantwich wouldn’t stay down for long. Luke Walsh picked up the ball on the left side of the area, and drove down to the byline. The winger danced past a defender, before putting the ball across goal for Malkin, and the striker was able to stab the ball home.
This was the last real action of the first half, as both sides went in even in a fairly reflective account of the previous forty-five minutes.
Nantwich were straight out of the gate for the second half, as Harry Goode nicked the ball from a Curzon pass, and drove down the right side of the field. The young full-back put in a neat cross into the box that was headed away for a Dabbers corner, though the set-piece was well-saved by keeper Mason.
Ten minutes after the restart, Jack Bannister had Curzon’s first chance of the half, as he flashed an effort past the near post.
Nantwich would take the lead a few moments later as Sean Cooke received the ball on the left-side of the area, before putting a cross into the box similar to Luke Walsh’s for the first goal, but it was Walsh himself on the end of Cooke’s ball, with the winger able to fire home.
Unfortunately, like Curzon’s in the first half, Nantwich’s lead wouldn’t be a long one. The Nash would equalise soon after, with Isaac Sinclair netting on the hour mark.
Curzon could have taken the lead once more soon after, as they were able to dink the ball past Hall, but substitute Will Foster excellently managed to clear away.
Joe Malkin began a quick break on the back of this on the left, but was taken down in the middle of his driving run. However, the forward managed to keep the ball while on the floor and got himself up and continued his counter. Nantwich were unable to make the counter count though.
With fifteen minutes to go, Malkin had a solid chance, firing the ball towards goal, but Mason comfortably saved the striker’s effort.
Elliot Cooke had the final chance of the afternoon for Curzon, as a shot from close-range just cleared the crossbar.
That would be the final action of the game, as both sides contested a competitive draw, with Dave Cooke likely to be the happier of the two managers as Nantwich continue their preparations for the new season.
The Dabbers return to action this Tuesday evening, as they take on Ramsbottom United at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.
Nantwich Town: Greg Hall, Harry Goode (Clayton McDonald 73′), Matty Devine, Troy Bourne, Josh Langley, Caspar Hughes (C), Will Saxon (Jamie Reed 55′), James Lawrie, Joe Malkin, Sean Cooke, Luke Walsh (Will Foster 58′)
Subs not used: Keiron Clarke (GK), Cobi Bateman, Kallam Boyle
Curzon Ashton: Cameron Mason, Andy Halls, Jack O’Leary, Nicky Wroe, Danny Shaw (Mo Ali 62′), Oliver Thornley, Jack Bannister (Luke Wall 58′), Robbie Evans (Elliot Cooke 70′), Michael Ecclestone, Sean Miller (Brad Lynch 70′), Isaac Sinclair (Liam Davies 70′)
Subs not used: Liam Lovell (GK), Luke Merrell, Callum Saunders